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Damage Deposits - Cash Only Until We Are Trusted - Disappointing BDC Policy

We have self contained properties where the guest arrives and lets themselves in with the key in a key safe by the front door. We require a damage deposit from guests.

When a guest books on AirBnB, they pay for the booking and an extra amount is reserved on the card to cover a damage deposit. If we need to claim on it, we can do. If not, it is cancelled 7 days after the guest leaves.

When a guest books on TripAdvisor, the damage deposit is paid to TripAdvisor. If we need to claim on it, we can do. If not, it is cancelled and refunded automatically to the guest 7 days after the guest leaves. have a very different policy. All of our properties on BDC use Payments by Guests pay at the time of booking. However, they do not pay a damage deposit. With one property, the settings show that guests can pay the damage deposit directly to us via bank transfer. With other properties, the settings show that guests pay the damage deposit in cash on arrival and it is refunded in cash when the guest leaves.

Cash is not practical for us. Guests could drive over 100 miles and get stuck in traffic jams. They could be delayed on ferry crossings. They may want to leave early to get home before traffic builds up on the motorways. Therefore, check-in and check-out times are flexible to suit the guests. We cannot have someone waiting at the property for several hours for a guest to arrive and hope they have the cash with them and cannot make guests wait around for us to get to the property to refund them.

We don't think it would be good to wait around for hours and then say to guests "We know you've been travelling for 8 hours and you're tired and irritable and you just want to get in and unpack, but we need the damage deposit, so please can you go to the cash machine 1 mile away and then we'll give you the key".

Also, there is no proper record with cash payments. Sure, we can use a receipt book, but we prefer all payments (including damage deposits) to be properly recorded.

BDC could easily modify their payment systems to reserve an amount for a damage deposit at the time the guest books online, but they won't.

They have said "Until you reach a certain number of booked stays, the system will say Cash Only". They won't say what that 'certain number of booked stays' is. Even when we reach that number and the system changes to "Damage Deposit by Bank Transfer", it's a manual job that we have to do and we have to keep asking guests to pay it.

It would be so easy for BDC to change their systems but they won't.

BDC also say this is because we are "not trusted" yet. I have spent many hours pushing the points across to BDC that we are a genuine company, we can prove ownership of the properties, prove that we are fully insured, etc etc etc, but they won't have it. Personally, I find the term "not trusted" quite offensive as we can prove we are genuine.

At the end of the day, the damage deposit is very important. Property owners need to be protected, as do other guests. If guests have paid a damage deposit, they are more likely to be more careful with the property.

We have had an incident where guests from BDC did not pay the damage deposit and they trashed the property - it had been newly refurbished. We had to close the property for another 2 weeks and cancel some bookings. If the guests had paid a damage deposit, they might have thought twice about their behaviour.

The BDC policy on damage deposits is unfair to owners and puts future bookings at risk, so is unfair to future guests.

I would like BDC to make a simple change to Payments by to reserve the damage deposit amount at the time the guest makes the booking. It's a quick and easy change for them to make and will protect owners and will protect future guests.

I have spent many hours pushing these points to BDC and will continue the fight with BDC to protect owners and protect future guests.

How do you feel about BDC damage deposit policies?


Damage is the nature of your business. We are a wee bit different being onsite 24/7 - fully hosted,we have never had any damage apart from minor accidental breakage of a cup, glass, or a spillage - usually reported to us . But we do have insurance to cover any damage by guests. In 6 years we have never had to use it but if something major did happen we are covered. We also have Innkeeper liability , which cover us if the guests posessions were to be damaged if there were a fire or natural disaster. This also covers you in case the guest was injured on your property as a result of accident. I think it comes under Broardform Liability.

Thuild - Your …

And it sucks when no company in my country does this type of insurance for individuals owning properties that are used for hotel rentals.


Really! Thats no good.  I know in NZ most insurance companies do not cover any home that is used as commercial accommodation, some may do but it is very limited, usually up to 3 guests and a limited number of nights per year.    Do you have insurance brokers? Maybe they can can offer you a policy that regular  Hotel or Motel but on a scaled back version.  

Thuild - Your …

I feel like this:

1. Me as a guest, I am cautious to pay a damage deposit because there are a lot of scams where they say you broke something when you clearly didn't so they steal the deposit from you.

2. Why would I book a place that asks for a deposit when I can book one that doesn't?

3. Would you pay a damage deposit in a foreign country, without knowing anything about the local legislature?

Until these things exist, you'll have an issue by using this system.


Isle of Wight …

1 - Damage deposits in self-catering accommodation are very common in the UK. The damage deposits are small. Owners are unlikely to scam guests - it would quickly become very obvious to a bookings company like BDC to spot an owner repeatedly claiming. Owners want to make money by having happy guests, again and again - we make far more from happy guests than we could ever hope to make from fake damage claims. The damage deposit is not so much for owners to claim against minor breakages, it's to encourage guests to take care of the property and not to ruin it for the owner and the next guests - guests want their damage deposit returned.

2 - Deposits are fairly common here. If you are a normal decent person and look after the property you are in, you should be confident that you'll get your deposit back, so you won't worry about paying it.

3 - Most of our guests live in the UK

We are almost fully booked. The damage deposits don't put people off over here .....